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The Land Where History Died, Part 1
David Stockman

In light of the grotesquely one-sided Ukrainian war news on the MSM, it can be well and truly said that America circa February 2022 has become the land where history died.

From the sophomoric coverage of CNN and NBC, for instance, you would think that Ukraine’s borders have been universally agreed upon by one and all for eons; that the government in Kiev has done absolutely nothing to provoke Russian suspicion and anger; and that Uncle Sam, NATO and the European Union have flitted around the neighborhoods on Russia’s borders merely cheer-leading for democracy and selflessly passing out economic aid and cookies to the long-suffering Ukrainian peoples.

Well, no. Today’s hot war eruption in Ukraine would absolutely not be happening save for the violent coup of February 2014 that overthrew Ukraine’s democratically elected pro-Russian President; and which coup was funded, organized and choreographed by Washington-based neocons, busy-bodies and arms merchants who otherwise had no reason for even existing in the post-Soviet world.

Moreover, by reviewing the voting patterns of the 2010 Ukrainian presidential election we can see exactly how Washington’s blunderbuss intervention in support of the Maidan putsch put the kibosh on stable governance in Kiev and friendly relations with Ukraine’s historic neighbor and suzerain, Russia. That’s because while the 2010 election reflectedthe stark divisions of the Ukrainian electorate (see map below) it still produced a government that was reasonably acceptable to most of the electorate, and one which proceeded to work toward new arrangements with both Ukraine’s EU neighbors to the west and Russia to the east.

In the end, that tolerable governing balance was abruptly and unilaterally cancelled by Washington’s writ, especially when it then almost instantly embraced and recognized an ad hoc, anti-Russian government which came from the extreme right side of the political/ethnic spectrum.

The effect was to send Kiev on a path toward massive economic and military aid from the US/EU and NATO membership that was bound to produce the adverse Russian reaction that Ambassador George Kennan had warned about two decades earlier.

As to the aid matter, Ukraine received only minor assistance from the west prior to 2014, but upwards of $15 billion since then. That included nearly $3 billion of military aid from the US, $6 billion of development and economic aid from Western donors, $3 billion of subsidized Ex-Im Bank funding from the US and $3 billion of other humanitarian aid. The effect was to turn Ukraine into a ward of Washington—a new post-coup fact on the ground that was blatantly obvious to Moscow.

As to the adverse shock effect of the Maidan coup on Ukrainian governance and external policy, the map below tells you all you need to know. The dark blue parts of the map to the far east (Donbas) indicate an 80% or better vote for Viktor Janukovych in the 2010 election. By contrast, the dark red areas in the west voted 80% or more for the Ukrainian nationalist, Yulie Tymoshenko. That is to say, the skew in the Ukrainian electorate was so extreme as to make America’s current red state/blue state divide seem hardly noteworthy by comparison.

As it happened, the sum of the pro-Janukovych skews from the east and south (Donbas and Crimea) added up to 12.48 million votes and 48.95% of the total, while the sum of the extreme red skews in the center and west (the old eastern Galicia) amounted to 11.59 million votes and 45.47% of the total.

Stated differently, it is hard to imagine an electorate more sharply divided on a regional/ethnic/language basis, but one which still produced a decisive enough victory margin (3.6 percentage points) for Janukovych—so as to be accepted by all parties. That became especially clear when Tymoshenko, who was the incumbent prime minister, withdrew her election challenge a few weeks after the run-off in February 2010. At that point, of course, Russia had no beef with the Kiev government at all because essentially Janukovych’s “Regions Party” was based on the pro-Russian parts (blue areas) of the Ukrainian electorate.

During the next several years the economic basket case which was Ukraine attempted to improve its circumstances by running a bake-off of sorts between the European Union and Russia with respect to aid and trade deals.

And well its leaders might have: Ukraine had become a cesspool of financial corruption in which a handful of oligarchs had robbed the country blind. Its 2013 real GDP consequently fell to $600 billion (2017 $)—a 33% shrinkage from its 1990 level.

Accordingly, the supposedly pro-Russian Janukovych administration initiated in March 2012 an Association Agreement with the European Union that was to provide trade advantages and an IMF aid package. However, the EU leaders insisted that no agreement could be ratified unless Ukraine addressed concerns over a “stark deterioration of democracy and the rule of law”, including the imprisonment of Yulia Tymoshenko in 2011. In order to address these concerns, in fact, President Janukovych urged the parliament to adopt laws so that Ukraine would meet the EU’s criteria.

Ukraine Real GDP, 1990-2019

But it was the parallel $4 billion IMF loan that turned out to be the straw that broke the camel’s back. According to then Prime Minister Mykola Azarov “the extremely harsh conditions” of the IMF loan (presented by the IMF in November 2013) included big budget cuts and a 40% increase in natural gas bills. Those proved to be hills too high to climb for all the factions within the fractionated Ukraine polity.

Accordingly, the IMF demands became the clinching argument behind the Ukrainian government’s decision to suspend preparations for signing the Association Agreement with the EU. Instead, Kiev quickly pivoted to a deal with Russia in the fall of 2013, which was willing to offer $15 billion in loans without the harsh IMF pre-conditions. Also, Moscow offered Ukraine a discount on Ukraine’s large gas purchases from Russia.

Moreover, by that point Ukraine was over a financial barrel, facing an external funding gap of $17 billion during the upcoming year—almost the level of the central bank’s depleted currency reserves.

The rest is history, as they say. The Washington neocons were not about to accept a pivot to Russia come hell or high water. So they swung into action bringing all the instruments of the Empire—the CIA, the State Department, NED, the NGOs and favored Ukrainian oligarchs—to bear on scuttling the Russian deal and removing Janukovych from office.

In a later interview with a US journalist, in fact, Ukrainian billionaire oligarch and opposition leader, Petro Porochenko (who later became president), said quite clearly that the plan was to subvert the nation’s constitution and install an unelected, antiRussian government that would deep-six the deal with Moscow:

“From the beginning, I was one of the organizers of the Maidan. My television channel—Channel 5—played a tremendously important role. …On the 11th of December, when we had U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and E.U. diplomat Catherine Ashton in Kyiv, during the night they started to storm the Maidan.”

It should never be forgotten, therefore, that the coup which overthrew the constitutionally elected government in Kiev was a $5 billion all-hands Washington undertaking. It would never have come to fruition as a successful regime change putsch without the heavy hands of the US State Department along with the above mentioned arms of the empire.

Needless to say, nullification of a country’s election—-backed by the stick of NATO’s military might and the carrot of billions from a Washington/EU/IMF consortium—-is big league meddling, but not by the clueless hypocrisy of the Washington foreign policy blob.



Former Congressman David A. Stockman was Reagan's OMB director, which he wrote about in his best-selling book, The Triumph of Politics. His latest books are The Great Deformation: The Corruption of Capitalism in America and Peak Trump: The Undrainable Swamp And The Fantasy Of MAGA. He's the editor and publisher of the new David Stockman's Contra Corner. He was an original partner in the Blackstone Group, and reads LRC the first thing every morning.

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